Усяленскі Патрыярх Варфаламей
Арцыбіскуп Кентэрберыйскі, Джасцін Уэлбі
Генеральны Сакратар Сусветнае Рады Цэркваў, Олаф Фіксэ-Твэйт
Генеральны Сакратар Сусветнае Лютэранскае Федэрацыі, Марцін Юнгэ
Выканаўчы Дырэктар Тэалагічнае Камісіі Сусветнага Евангелічнага Альянсу, Разалі Вэллоса Эвэль
Генеральны Сакратар Арганізацыі Аб’яднаных Нацый, Пан Гі Мун
Старшыня Еўрапейскае Рады, Дональд Туск
Прэзідэнт Латвіі, Раймандс Вэёніс
Dear young people,
Coming from every part of Europe, and from a number of other continents, several thousand of you have gathered in Riga, Latvia, for the 39th meeting organized and led by the Taizé Community. With the theme of bearing witness to hope that will be at the heart of your reflection and prayers, Pope Francis is particularly close to you because he has often called you to not let anyone rob you of your hope. During the WYD prayer vigil in Kraków he strongly emphasized this essential reality of the Christian faith: “At the moment when the Lord calls us, he looks at all that we might be able to do, all the love we are capable of sharing. He always wagers on the future, on tomorrow. Jesus urges you on toward the horizon, never toward the museum” (30 July 2016).
The Holy Father thanks you for choosing to leave your comfortable homes to live out this pilgrimage of trust in response to the call of God’s Spirit.
Young Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic Christians, by these days lived in real fraternity you manifest your desire to be protagonists of history and not let others decide your future. The Pope encourages you to stand firm in hope by letting the Lord live in your hearts and your daily lives. With Jesus, the faithful friend who never disappoints, you will be able to walk along the path toward the future with joy and devote your talents and abilities for the good of all.
Today, many people are disconcerted and discouraged by violence, injustice, suffering and divisions. They have the impression that evil is stronger than anything. Therefore, Pope Francis invites you to show in your words and deeds that evil is not the last word in our history. For “it is the time of mercy for each and all, since no one can think that he or she is cut off from God’s closeness and the power of his tender love” (Apostolic Letter, Misericordia and Misera, section 21).
The Pope hopes that these days that bring you together in Riga will help you not to be afraid of your limits but to grow in trust in Jesus, the Christ and Lord, who believes and hopes in you. May you, in the simplicity to which Brother Roger bore witness, build bridges of friendship and make visible the love with which God loves us.
From the depths of his heart, the Holy Father gives you his blessing, to you young people participating in this meeting, to the Brothers of Taizé, and to all the people who welcome you in Riga and the surrounding region.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Dear young people,
You meet again at the crossroads of two years as if to remind Europe that there is an energy in the Christian youth of this continent which does not intend to submit to the isolationist and nationalistic temptations nourished by the fear of terrorism and more generally by the fear of the other. 2016 was a particularly bloody and uncertain year for Europe. However, the challenges ahead in 2017 will be decisive in laying down the guidelines for the European future we hope for. The impression of an environment shaken in its certainties of peace, equality and freedom is accentuated by the powerful polarization of public debates, notably on the reception of immigrants, the protection of the creation and a financial crisis which is not finished for everyone.
Therefore, as Christians, we are convinced that our mission in an excessively secularized world, in which religious practice is constantly declining and where youth turns away from faith, is to discern even more deeply the nature of our vocation. In our baptism we are taken hold of by the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit which introduces us into the mystery of the work of Christ. In this sense, we become the Church, continuing in the world the mystery of Christ, the mystery of his incarnation, the mystery of his preaching, the mystery of his death and resurrection. As the Holy Apostle Paul writes, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ is not risen, and if Christ is not risen, our preaching is empty, and empty also is your faith” (1 Cor 15:13-14).
Being Christian and young in the world today is a permanent challenge and at the same time an opportunity to discover or rediscover certain aspects of life in the Church. In its Message, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which met in Crete in June 2016, declared: “The Church transmits the testimony of the Gospel of charity and freedom, while offering to the whole inhabited world the gifts of God: love, peace, justice, reconciliation, the power of the Cross and the Resurrection and the hope of eternity. "
We therefore believe that the process of ecumenical, political and social reconciliation is based on the capacity of countries, peoples and individuals to engage in dialogue. By dialogue, we mean not only debate or negotiation, but also the process linking us to each other without there being any other purpose than this simple, and unfortunately today unlikely, relationship. Dialogue as the discovery of the other. Dialogue as the overcoming of prejudice. Finally, dialogue as the union of words by the Word. For the “Word”, the Logos, is at the beginning and at the end of all things (Cf. Jn 1:1). Dialogue is therefore at the heart of our Christian life. It is the most useful tool of this civilization that we are currently building together, a civilization of dialogue to inspire the European future.
Dear young people, in these days when you are meeting in Riga to share together an important ecumenical moment in the building of a united Christian and European conscience, you demonstrate once again that it is only together that paths of unity can be opened, whether these paths are denominational or political. There are still ways to be explored, such as those appearing in the "Proposals 2017" presented by Brother Alois. We will only mention two of them here: “Simplify our lives in order to share” and “Allow friendship to grow in order to prepare peace”. These two proposals are closely correlated. The simplicity of life calls us to take a new look at creation and our relation to other people, allowing friendship to be re infused by solidarity. Aware of our interdependence both with the creation and the rest of humanity, we shall be able to make peace the horizon of our hope. As the Holy Apostle Paul says: “Hope does not disappoint, for the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rm 5:5).
We pray for you and bless you. May the grace of unity shine in each one of you and carry the hope that sustains the life of the Church, so that you may be worthy workers for peace.
The Moscow Patriarchate
I wish you all a happy feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and I convey to you the greetings of His Holiness Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and all Russia, who attaches great importance to the excellent tradition of meetings of the Christian youth of Europe. These meetings are possible thanks to the efforts of the prior and the brothers of the monastic community of Taizé who have maintained fruitful relations with the Russian Orthodox Church for many years.
Once again, the European Youth Meeting takes place during the Nativity and New Year period, a special time. These dates were not chosen at random, for the coming of the Saviour into the world has forever changed the course of human history. The Incarnation of the Son of God, the best proof of God’s love for man, restores to each one of us the hope that the world, which lies in evil, will be transfigured by the light of the Saviour who is “true God and eternal life” (1 Jn 5:19-20).
The world we live in is faced with challenges of unprecedented size on political, economic and social levels. Millions of people have had to leave their country, fleeing terrorist threats. Political instability in society divides people into enemy camps. However, let us remember what the Lord Jesus Christ says: “In the world you will have to suffer. But keep courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). He expects us to radically change our lives in order to overcome the forces of the world in the world around us.
Let us pray that during the coming year there will be more love between people, and may the angelic glorification of these Christmas days - “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to men of good will” (Lk 2:14), resonate with a particular joy in the life of every person. May the grace of God dwell with you all! With my friendship in the Lord,
Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
As you gather in Riga in the joyful season of Christmas, greetings in the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh, who by the action of God and the obedience of His blessed Mother, the God bearer, came to dwell among us, Emmanuel.
The theme for your meeting this year, ‘Together Opening Paths for Hope’, is so very important for the Church. I pray that you would be drawn more and more deeply into the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and that the insights and the energy that come from your time together in Riga may become a source for renewal in our churches here in Europe.
In our troubled world, in which so many live in poverty and fear, we all need to be renewed in hope. To live with the vulnerable and marginalized, with Jesus Christ at the center of our communities and at the heart of our ecumenical relations, to act together out of love and in love, love that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is also to live as those who sow hope. Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’ (John 8.12). John the Evangelist, in words that will be heard in many of our churches during the forthcoming Christmas season, also strengthens us with this message: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1,5).
To share this good news of hope with the world, God has given us one another in the fellowship of the Church. Together in Christ we can open paths of hope where people are drawn to the dead ends of cynicism and despair. May these days take us forward on the ‘Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth’ that the Taizé community has been faithfully undertaking for many years.
The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse-Tveit
It is my honour and joy to share a message on behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its constituency at this important event convened under the sign of hope, peace and reconciliation.
The WCC is a fellowship of 348 Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant und United churches, representing 550 million Christians in more than 110 countries, which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The WCC fellowship is inspired to live in communion with God through prayer and service in the promise of Jesus Christ´s prayer that we may all be one. The churches from around the world are united in the love of Christ for humanity.
You have chosen to reflect this year on a very important theme that is at the heart of our faith as Christians communities: Hope. Indeed, Hope is a quality of faith. And a necessary condition for hope is that it expresses itself in love for others, whoever and wherever they are.
The faith dimension of our Ecumenical pilgrimage of justice and peace should convey hope.
This reference to „faith“ is not only a platform on which churches consider different perspectives, but much more; it is an approach and attitude, nurtured by fellowship across confessional and contextual borders. It is work accompanied by a daily prayer: „Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is heaven.“ It is service offered by those thirsty for righteousness and willing to be peacemakers. Faith is expressed and brought to action in many ways: in confidence and trust in God, in the content of doctrine, in the teaching of the church, in a commitment to serve and share, in embodying a community of faith and sacraments, and in common witness in words and deeds.
Hope grows out of the core of Christian faith, the apostolic tradition of the cross and the resurrection. True hope is never only for me and my group and our interests; it is anchored in an event that is widely known and that has universal implications. If it is not a hope for all, it is not a real hope, and it is not a Christian hope.
This dimension of hope, that transformation is possible, is a significant dimension of faith in God and faith in the inspiration and strength given by God. There is a shared confidence in the potential of human beings to understand and pursue the will of God, not only short-sighted and narrow-minded self-interests and perspectives. It is expressed in prayers that are the catalyst for change, a spirituality that has a formative purpose and effect.
Thus, in the discourse of human rights we find it relevant from a faith perspective to speak of „a right to hope“. This is primarily because respect for and protection of human rights addresses the most common basic hopes we have as human beings for justice and peace and the sustainable future of life. The conventions of human rights are in their deepest sense established to give hope in times of crisis. The experiences of being without rights, particularly in vulnerable situations, should not be repeated. Furthermore, we call for a right to hope because the hope must be nurtured by reliable reasons and signs that give hope, actions that respond to the need for hope. These reasons must come from actions of love, care for the other and a commitment to justice and peace.
May your gathering be blessed by the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and may it inspire all young people who are in need of peace, hope, healing and reconciliation.
The Secretary General of the Lutheran World Federation, Pastor Martin Junge
It is with joy that I send the greetings of the Lutheran World Federation to your gathering in the city of Riga, Latvia. With your annual gathering, a beautiful and important tradition is being continued, and we give thanks to God for it. Because by coming together, you are underlining a basic insight of Christian faith: it is at its best, it shines and becomes the warm fire of hope, love and compassion it is meant to be, when people of faith come together to pray, sing and discern God’s word.
This urge to be together is known to us from the times of the apostles. They didn’t shy away from long and at times dangerous travels just because they so much wanted to be with other fellow believers, meeting them, encouraging each other, discerning the signs of time and praying for God’s guidance so as to offer witness to Christ in their own time. They knew they were one, even if separated by so many other aspects of their lives.
In keeping with this tradition, you come together in times, in which coming together can’t actually be taken for granted. There seems to be something in the air today, a dangerous mixture of uncertainty, instability, fear and hopelessness, that has resulted in communities, if not the human family, finding it hard to come together and to work together. There is a lot of fragmentation that divides communities. Trust seems to be eroding. Again, we seem to be living in times when people seek protection by separating from the other, instead of relating to each other. Yet, history shows that there is no wall that prevails and delivers on its false promise to safeguard protection. It is by relating to each other that peaceful neighborhood is made possible.
Against this context, I want to thank each of you for the apostolic sign of your togetherness in Riga. It means a lot in our world. With deep roots in Christian faith, you are showing that our common Baptism has the ongoing power to bring people together. And because of your common faith in Christ, you can also be together in our world.
I pray for your meetings, your spiritual life and your reflections during your days in Riga. May you experience in practical ways how deeply God has interwoven you with each other. May God reveal the power of faith in your journey. While being together, may you become the warming fire that will give hope to those surrounding you. And as you let the fire of faith shine, may God be praised with thanksgiving and joy.
The Executive Director, Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, Dr. Rosalee Velloso Ewell
If we look at the world through the eyes of the media, through the news, television and Internet, there is great darkness, greed, injustices, violence and oppression. It is a frightening place in so many ways. And yet in Psalm 23 we are reminded that even in the valley of death God is with us. This is the hope that King David writes about in the psalm and it is the hope that Christians proclaim during Advent and at Christmas – we prepare for the Lord’s coming and we celebrate Jesus’ birth.
The Gospel of Saint Luke tells us about the descendent of David, the Messiah, born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-14). Though of noble lineage, Jesus’ birth points to the humility and simplicity of life in God’s reign. The light shone on that simple stable is a light that shines for us today, even in the darkest hours.
The hope we celebrate at Christmas is made more real, more concrete when it is celebrated together. Through Christian friendship we see the unity and the miracle of peace that Jesus gives us. In the New Testament there are countless narratives of people brought together because of Jesus: Matthew a tax-collector and the fisherman Peter would have never been friends, let alone fellow disciples, without the love and reconciliation made possible in Jesus; the woman merchant Lydia and a jailer in Philippi were the unlikely founders of one of Europe’s first churches. Their stories are inspiration and challenge for us today – dare we to see with the eyes of the Spirit, to see beyond differences and to embrace the other for the sake of the gospel?
Just as those early Christians gathered to share in one body and one Spirit, it is my prayer that Taizé in Riga will shine with gospel hope, with the light of God’s Spirit and the love of Jesus to make friends of those who were once strangers and to practice justice and mercy where once there was violence and oppression.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon
I am pleased to greet all participants in the Taizé Community’s Annual Meeting for Young Adults.
You gather at a moment of challenge and opportunity for the human family. Our world faces formidable threats. Gulfs of mistrust divide citizens from their leaders; extremists push people into camps of “us” and “them”, and the Earth assails us with rising seas and record heat.
Yet as I near the end of ten years in office, I am convinced that we have the power to end war, poverty and persecution. With the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we have a new framework and blueprint for a better future. With the Paris Agreement on climate change, we are tackling the defining challenge of our time. The recently adopted New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants points the way toward more effective responses to the largest forced displacements of people since the Second World War. And with the timeless values of the UN Charter as our guide, we can stand against those who prey on fear, and stand up for the human rights of all.
I have visited a great many UN Member States over the past decade. What I have seen, more than Government buildings and global landmarks, is the remarkable power of people. I will count on you to help advance our shared goals of peace, development and human rights, and to make 2017 a great success in building a future of dignity for all. Please accept my best wishes for a meaningful gathering and a Happy New Year.
The President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk
I would like to send my warmest greetings to this year’s European Youth Meeting in Riga and all its participants. Now, more than ever, it is young people who have the biggest contribution to make in rising to the challenges of today’s world and shaping the future. So it is encouraging and reassuring to see gatherings like this where the youth come together in faith and conscience, not only to reflect on the problems in today’s world – violence, fear and greed – but also to rekindle the forces for good: understanding, wisdom and generosity. It is harder to see these forces at work, but they are fundamentally stronger. I have witnessed this in my own life and political struggles.
In a few weeks time, Europe will come together to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of Rome, which opened a pathway of understanding, hope and love. The best way to honour this visionary step is not to look backward and inward, but to struggle harder to look outward and forward to a better, common future. As European leaders reflect over the coming weeks and months, I ask for your goodwill and your prayers. I am confident that we can find our way together, walking the same path of hope and unity.
The President of Latvia, M. Raimonds Vējonis
I am sincerely grateful that European Taizé meeting brings together young people from all corners of the world in Riga. I would also like to thank you for your contribution to gathering so many young people here in the middle of the Baltic States to spend these concluding days of the year in common prayers for peace in the world and better future.
In these turbulent times, it is particularly important to build relationships based on shared experiences and mutual trust. The challenges and the future of Europe are in the hands of young people. I trust in young people, and I am confident that you will live up to your ideals and hopes.
It is important to use the time wisely to work for common good and to build lasting peace. I know that it is not easy to be on this journey and it can even be frightening many times. I am confident that the European Taizé meeting in Riga is a contribution to strengthening the courage of young people and the human family as a whole.